Exercising Your Companion Dog and Mental Health

Exercising your companion dogs for their mental and behavioral health and yours.

While we all hear about how exercise is good both physically and mentally for us and our companion dogs, we often take it for granted. However, we need to see the connection between the mental health of our puppies and how it affects our mental health. For instance, many new puppy parents don’t connect puppy house destruction with lack of exercise.

We are sure you have – just like we have – seen new puppy parents simply take their new companion out to go to the bathroom then walk back into their house or condo, or we see them just let the pups out in the backyard. They then get frustrated when their puppies continue to run around the house or bark at everything. This is followed by their becoming tired and stressed from cleaning up the messes. Next, we hear they are trying to train their puppies not to destroy the house and cannot figure out why the behavior continues.

Exercise is quite plainly the first logical and inexpensive step to take.

Of course, it is good to establish a designated potty spot and to train puppies to relieve themselves outside. But, puppies still need to be walked or taken to a dog park at the appropriate age. As they age into adulthood, they need to continue to receive regular exercise.

Exercise tires the puppies out and curbs these behaviors. Indeed, exercise reduces the anxiety and boredom that leads to the chewing, scratching, exploring the trash can, digging and jumping.

In combination with exercise, we at Hemopet advocate crating puppies so that they feel like they have their own safe space and home.

What kind of exercise should my dog do?

We believe that all dogs need to be walked by you or someone in your household twice a day. This will help you bond with your dog, help with training, and socialize your dog if you run into other companion pets along the way.

The questions become: how far should I walk my dog and how much exercise should he get?

There are a number of considerations here:

First, you must consider your companion dog’s breed. Veterinarian Dr. Susan O’Dell suggests the following:

  • Herding and sporting breeds should get at least 60-90 minutes of higher intensity exercise daily.
  • Terriers need 60 minutes of exercise per day.
  • Hounds can be divided into two groups: sight and scent. Sight hounds like Greyhounds are sprinters that release energy in quick bursts and may need a couple of harder sprint workouts per week. Scent hounds have exercise needs like herding and sporting dogs.
  • Dr. O’Dell did not give a daily time allotment for toy breeds and brachycephalic dogs. However, they still need exercise. We would suggest inching up exercise daily with these guys. For instance, if the destructive or barking behaviors continue, walk an extra block or two everyday until the behavior subsides. Then, maintain that level of exercise.

Secondly, you need to think about the weather. You can adjust for inclement weather. If it is hot out, please take a portable water bowl – particularly with the brachycephalic dogs. In cold weather, you can get your companion dog booties, paw salve, coats, and sweaters.

Other considerations are age, other physical ailments and obesity.

Of course, there are always exceptions. If the behavior continues, check with your veterinarian that your dog’s exercise routine is at optimum levels. If it is, you should consider having your companion dog’s thyroid checked. We suggest have a complete panel done that includes the T4, freeT4, T3, freeT3 and thyroid autoantibodies (TGAA).


Cavaleri, Franco. “The Importance of Exercise for Dogs.” Animal Wellness Magazine, 29 Apr. 2014, https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/importance-of-exercise-dog/.

Dodds, Jean. “Aberrant Behavior and Thyroid Dysfunction in Dogs.” Pet Health Resources Blog, Tumblr, 13 Sept. 2013, https://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/60944623740/dog-aberrant-behavior-thyroid-dysfunction#.X5nhbYhKjIV.

“Importance of Regular Exercise for Your Pets.” SPCA Florida, 3 Sept. 2015, https://www.spcaflorida.org/blog/importance-of-regular-exercise-for-your-pets/.

O’Dell, Susan. “How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?” The Bark, 3 Feb. 2015, https://thebark.com/content/how-much-exercise-does-your-dog-need.

“Your Dog: Why Exercise Is Important.” Vetstreet, 18 June 2013, http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/your-dog-why-exercise-is-important.

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